UTLA teachers deserve more than the district is offering

Casey Wanatick

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Here are some of the reasons why UTLA teachers want to strike

In 1989, teachers across the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) went on strike because they weren’t receiving adequate pay. Twenty-nine years later, history might repeat itself.

Teachers aren’t getting the salary they deserve. Classes are too big and there is not enough staff to go around. Most schools don’t have full-time nurses or librarians to help out students and not enough counselors to fulfill each student’s needs. LAUSD should give the teachers the demands they need because they are the ones educating the students.

Currently, the Unified Teacher’s Los Angeles (UTLA) union has authorized a strike that could happen at any moment as mediation efforts failed for the third time on Oct. 13.

The union has asked for a six point five percent salary increase across the board but LAUSD has offered UTLA a mere three percent salary increase retroactive to last year and if lucky, another three percent if LAUSD’s finances remain in good shape. That’s not a sufficient offer because the teachers won’t be getting the other three percent because according to the district, the deal would put LAUSD farther into their already $500 million deep deficit for the school year.

UTLA is not asking for much. The situation is that the district doesn’t want to spend the extra money they have. According to a Facebook post by UTLA, the district has $1.7 billion dollars in reserves for the 2018-2019 school year. That money could be spent on full-time nurses and librarians, a better salary for teachers and administrators, updated textbooks and school supplies.

The teachers and administrators are the ones suffering from the lackluster salary they receive. For example, the teacher-to-student ratio at DPMHS is 21:1 which means that each class a teacher offers has 21 students on average. Although that is lower than the average LAUSD class size it is still a lot for the teachers since they teach five periods per day which rounds out to 105 students they have to keep track of.  

One might consider that the UTLA is asking for too much considering that the average LAUSD teacher makes $60,000 per year while the average teacher makes $55,000 per year. The reason UTLA is asking for a pay raise for its teachers is because according to UTLA, the average class size for a high school is 34 students, well above average compared to the rest of the country.

The district needs to understand that teachers work hard every day to educate the students at LAUSD schools who work hard under the circumstances of slightly overfilled classes. Teachers all across LAUSD deserve to go on strike if that’s what it takes for the district to finally listen.